As we continue our discussion of Army football, I decided to skip our feature on getting to know your opponent and instead focus on the part of Army's offensive game that killed Boston College in 2012 -- the triple option offense.
Today we will look at what the Triple Option is and how Boston College should go about defending against it this season. As we all remember, the Black Knights just slashed the Eagles defense to the tune of 500+ yards on the ground. BC looked completely lost as Army marched up and down the field at will.
Let me start this off be prefacing that right now Army hasn't even named their QB going forward, so I am just guessing they will be using a signal caller that utilizes this system. The Black Knights have had most success with this offense.
What is the Triple Option?
For those out there that haven't seen the Triple Option, or chose to block out the Georgia Tech and Army game from their memories, the Triple Option has three basic plays. There is the quarterback keeper, fullback draw or pitch to the halfback. Of course the offense is not as simplistic as that, and there are a slew of variations and wrinkles the OC can choose from.
The Triple Option is difficult to defend against for a myriad of reasons. First off, defenses are going to need to realize that the opposing offense is going to get yards. It's just part of their game. Secondly, because of the movement of the ball, the Triple Option puts linebackers and the secondary in precarious positions where they need to commit to the play, and one juke or spin move can cause huge chunks of yards by the offense.
So what should BC do?
1. Don't Blitz. Last year, I stupidly hollered that BC needed to send more guys after Trent Steelman. Which is basically the opposite of what BC should have done. Quarterbacks, and the line can usually read where the blitz is coming from, which will allow the quarterback to audible the play away from the pressure. This puts the defense at a sizable disadvantage as they are now playing uphill and behind the play, which is lethal against the option.
2. Prepare for the run. Army is not going to have talented receivers, or a QB with a strong enough arm that will burn BC down field. BC should have talented enough corners to keep them in single coverage. Don Brown will need to create a scheme focusing on lanes and gaps that the linebackers and safeties will need to plug. Stay disciplined, don't stray, attack those gaps and BC should be fine.
3. First Downs Are Huge. The statistics aren't in front of me, but if you were to look up Army/GT's first down yardages last year against BC, it would probably be a large number. BC needs to keep that number low. Why? Because the Triple Options plays are limited, they can't really pass all that well, and some plays (Fullback draw), aren't going to gain 7-8 yards on third and longs. If BC can hold Army to "third and manageable", they will succeed.
4. Strong Play By The Tackles. This is one of the aspects that killed BC last year, and worries me this season. Part of the allure for the offense, is the ability to move the ball up the middle if needed. If BC's defensive tackles can push around the much smaller Army offensive line, this should limit quarterback draws, and allow the defense to get at plays in the backfield. This was something that did not happen often last year.
5. Hit Them In The Mouth. The Triple Option playbook is predicated on deception and speed. One of the best ways to counter that is by hitting anyone and everyone that touches the ball or fakes to touch the ball on every play. The fullback fake to a halfback sweep? Destroy the fullback. You get the point. Football is part physical, part mental. If Army starts to hesitate on a play because BC blasted the running back on the previous two plays, then that is a win for BC.
More Readings About The Triple Option From Around The Network
Boise State playbook: The art of defending the Air Force triple option (One Bronco Nation Under God)
Defending the Triple Option: Some Basic Realities. (Dawg Sports)
Previewing Air Force: Defending The Triple Option (Crimson & Cream Machine)
GT: Defending the Option (Shakin The Southland)